Official Phoenix police statement regarding Gotbaum case

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The Phoenix Police Department continues to extend our condolences to the Gotbaum family for the tragic loss they suffered in the death of Ms. Carol Gotbaum on September 29th, 2007.

The Police Department and the City of Phoenix stand by the position we have taken all along that our officers acted appropriately and within policy.

The insurance company for the City of Phoenix settled the original notice of claim that asked for 8 million dollars, and subsequently reduced to 5.5 million dollars for the lawsuit, for $250,000, a fraction of the original amount.

The insurance carrier reports it has spent approximately $500,000 dollars so far in this case. They anticipated spending another $750,000 to litigate. It was a financial decision by the insurance carrier to settle in order to minimize further costs. According to the City of Phoenix, payment will exclusively be made by ACE Property and Casualty Insurance Company, and no monies from the City of Phoenix, its citizens, or its employees will be used to fund this settlement.

The history of this investigation has supported the facts as originally reported by the Phoenix Police Department. The factual concurrence occurred in the months after the incident through available video and audio evidence; Phoenix Police officer and witness interviews; Phoenix Police Department criminal and administrative investigations; the Maricopa County Attorney’s investigation; and the report of the Maricopa County Medical Examiner. Policies were reviewed and found to be appropriate.

Ms. Gotbaum was traveling alone and unescorted from New York City to an addiction treatment clinic in Arizona. She became disorderly and disruptive in a terminal at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport while under the influence of alcohol and numerous prescription medications. Without having any medical or other pertinent psychological information from Mr. Noah Gotbaum about his wife, Phoenix Police officers responded to a call from gate personnel of disorderly conduct in the terminal. As all who saw the publicly released video observed, officers unsuccessfully attempted to calm Ms. Gotbaum. Officers then made a lawful arrest of Ms. Gotbaum for disorderly conduct in front of numerous impartial witnesses and followed all procedures during the arrest, detention, and observation of Ms. Gotbaum while she was in police custody. When Ms. Gotbaum was in medical distress, Phoenix Police Officers and Phoenix Fire Department personnel did all they could to save her life. One officer continued to do mouth to mouth resuscitation even after Ms. Gotbaum vomited into his mouth.

Ms. Gotbaum’s death had and continues to have a profound effect upon all the officers who were involved.